Climate Change Effects Hugely Unequal Globally

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Crossposted from Antemedius

“Climate Change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”

Last week on May 16, 2009 a collaboration between the British medical journal The Lancet and University College London released the first UCL Lancet Commission report, assessing the impact of global warming on global health, and on populations.

Titled Managing the health effects of climate change (.PDF), the year long study highlights the threat of climate change on patterns of disease, water and food insecurity, human settlements, extreme climatic events, and population migration. The report also highlights the action required by global society to mitigate the health impacts of climate change.

“Climate change,” the report concludes, “is the biggest global health threat of the 21 century.”

But the impact on and cost to human societies globally is hugely unequal, with the populations of developed countries that benefit most from fossil fuels projected to suffer the least, while poorer countries that because of the projected health cost to their peoples have the maximum incentive to prevent climate change have virtually no power to do anything to prevent the changes.

It’s the old story of the comparatively few rich benefiting in comfort at the expense of poverty stricken multitudes.

The report presents the two distorted maps shown below (click the images to view full size) – density equalizing cartograms depicting a comparison of undepleted CO2 emissions by country for 1950-2000 versus the regional distribution of four climate sensitive health consequences (malaria, malnutrition, diarrhea, and inland flood-related fatalities).

The first image shows the world in terms of carbon emissions. America, for instance, is huge. So is China. And Europe. Africa is hardly visible.

The second map shows the world in terms of increased mortality — that is to say, deaths — from climate change. Suddenly, America virtually disappears. So does Europe. Africa, however, is grotesquely distended. South Asia inflates.

In Barack Obama’s commencement address Sunday May 17, 2009 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, Obama exhorted the graduates to recognize that “that our fates are tied up, as Dr. King said, in a ‘single garment of destiny.'” and “Your generation must decide how to save God’s creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it.”

But the peoples of the world are not bound equally.

“Loss of healthy life years as a result of global environmental change (including climate change) is predicted to be 500 times greater in poor African populations than in European populations,” states the UCL Lancet Commission report bluntly.

5 comments

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    • Edger on May 21, 2009 at 7:18 am
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    …in more ways than one.

    • Edger on May 21, 2009 at 3:40 pm
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  1. It’s wonderful being a 1st world nation!  We can fuck up the entire world and still make the poor brown bastards pay the butcher’s bill for it!

    • on May 23, 2009 at 8:04 am

    With the climate change that we are experiencing today. It is about time that the new administration will do something about it. Thank God!! At least, there are changes in CAFE standard. The CAFE standards, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, have been overhauled by President Obama, to drastically cut auto emissions around the U.S.A. The automobile industry might be doing less check cashing from sales of gas guzzlers, though – the new standard is for all cars (just cars, not trucks) to achieve an average of 35.5 mpg by 2016. It is currently at 27.5 mpg. That level of efficiency has already been mandated by the state of California, and the aim is to severely reduce emission of greenhouse gases. Critics point out that higher CAFE standards might save a payday cash loan at the pump, but smaller cars compromise crash safety.

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